Gaurav Gupta was the Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale designer

There was Ursula Andress in Dr. No. And, then there were Gaurav Gupta’s ‘mermaids’ at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai on the night of October 10. The Lakme Absolute Grand Finale that brought the curtains down at FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week was a spectacle of restrained drama and understated glam. The avant-garde Gaurav, known for his carefree and uninhibited pattern-making, draping, “draped art couture… structures, ruffles, boning, sculpting”, was very much the “mixed media artist” that he had once described himself as to The Telegraph.

#Redefine opened with images and sounds of the core of the show — the wondrous ocean. The red carpet-party collection was “made out of ocean plastic”. A metallic mise en scene was a water-splashed one with a pool of a ramp.

Gaurav sent out a clutter-free and wearable line of mostly gowns and dresses with details inspired by the flora and fauna of the marvellous underwater world. If the whites opened the show, Gaurav moved to silver, blacks and reds. The LBD got ‘redefined’ and there was athleisure-inspired chic in the menswear. The sexy slits complemented the bold red lips, the wet-hair and zero-jewellery look. So classy-oomphy.

Kareena Kapoor Khan was back as the showstopper and looked every bit the diva in her ivory and light gold ‘sculpted’ gown, that confidence radiating an unparalleled glow that the entire womankind could and should bask in.

And, the sight of the effortlessly suave Gaurav dressed in all white, splashing the water around with his rock-cool boots, embodied what fashion should be like. A lot of fun with its heart in the right place.

We caught up with Gaurav Gupta a couple of days ahead of the showing…

Knowing how sensitive and what an artist you are, this must be really close to your heart…

Yes, it is. It is something which is constantly disturbing me and I am sure it should constantly disturb everybody… it is a constant effort to reduce carbon footprint and we all need to take drastic measures towards it in our personal and professional lives. I just feel we need to work towards relative sustainability. I am not going to say that my brand is going to become 100 per cent sustainable right away, but it becomes an example if a brand like mine does something like this, moving towards sustainable practices. I wanted to challenge myself to see how I can make clothes out of recycled plastic from the ocean and landfills. We see sustainability as daywear and organic. I have tried to make sustainability sexy and eveningwear and couture.

What can we expect?

You can expect a spectacular show. I am always happy to work with Lakme Fashion Week. It is a beautiful collaborative effort. I am also happy that Lakme has taken some sustainability steps. You can expect a lot of redefinition. Lakme has launched Lakme Absolute Precision Lip Paint Pot (Lakme’s latest launch of the season) this time, which is interesting and creative. It is a beautiful creative collaboration between us and Lakme. Other than that what you can expect is Gaurav Gupta underwater fantasy world with clothes made out of ocean plastic.

How are you feeling as you come back to a physical show?

It is very exciting to come back to a physical show. Obviously, many millions would be consuming the show digitally because mine is anyway a drive-in show so that the Covid protocols can be taken care of properly. At the end of the day, to see that many models… 30-40 models in front of you, backstage, that excitement, even though we are all in a bubble, seeing your clothes live… just the production of the show (is so exciting). In a shoot you can always recreate. In a show it is all live.

What has gotten added to the set of things you have to do prior to a show, in the middle of a pandemic?

It’s just meticulous planning. It takes that much more time and effort to do every little thing. Covid is still around… so taking extreme precautions. The show must go on and life goes on. There are so many people who depend upon doing physical shows… around fashion as an industry.

What’s the one thing that comes to mind when we say Kareena Kapoor Khan? Diva, right?

I think Kareena is the nonchalant diva, totally bindaas. She definitely has a magnanimous star quality and at the same time, a sense of humour, which makes her relatable for all of us. That is what adds that X factor. She is a true performer. Even for me as a muse, whatever she is wearing, in a millisecond she starts playing that role. And that’s what is so exciting about her.

You must be super excited to be back as a Lakme Absolute Grand Finale showstopper. We missed you at the last edition! What are you expecting?

Yeah, yeah, very excited to be taking the ramp almost after two years. This would be quite a memorable experience. The entire fashion week has been about sustainability and the fact that everyone’s been talking so much about it is really amazing. To walk the ramp where we are talking about recycling, sustainable fashion, I am very happy that Lakme has actually done this, this year, to address such an important topic and bring it to the runway and when you have stars, celebrities and fashion designers come together to talk about it, it has more of an impact. These conversations need to happen more.

You have walked for Gaurav Gupta before. What’s the best thing about his clothes?

Gaurav has always been about over-the-top, beautiful cocktail gowns, drama, made-to-measure… and people love it. You can wear it to weddings and cocktails. I think combined with the sustainable (cause), this collection is going to be absolutely fantastic.

The cause must be close to your heart. What pains you the most about environmental abuse?

What upsets me is when you go out and see that you have so much plastic strewn on the beaches and in the water or garbage in the beautiful oceans, when you know there is marine and sea life out there. When you see these in photographs, it really disturbs you and leaves you with an image that is heartbreaking.

Given a chance, what would you like to do in your personal capacity, for preserving nature?

I think limited consumption… of course no to plastic.

We keep seeing your fitness posts. There is a lot of greenery around you. You love to live amidst nature…

Both Saif (Ali Khan, actor and husband) and I are plant lovers. Just having nature around us and as much greenery as possible (is important). Bombay is mainly buildings. We don’t get to see as much nature as probably up north. So we surround ourselves with a lot of greenery, which is important for the kids also.    

Tell us a spot you’d like to retire to…

I think about retiring but then I think that I am the kind of person who constantly needs to work. I have never really thought, but somewhere in nature of course.

Coming back to the finale, how do you interpret the theme #DefineToRedefine that is inspired by Lakme’s beauty statement of the season?

I think the fact that each designer is talking about the evolution of fashion for the better, the conscious… where you are talking about sustainability… I am really happy that they have all thought of this and made their collections. If they do it, then people consume that. If you have someone like me walk the ramp, it makes a statement. People will be like they also need to make conscious decisions.

What is your go-to make-up look?

I think it’s always been the iconic Lakme kajal or the bold lips, which is now the collection of lip paint. You always see me in statement red lips, which is now the ‘in’ colour, fuchsia pink or cherry. My go-to look is clean make-up. That is what I have always sworn by. But I am not afraid of experimenting, whether it’s Lakme as a brand or for my films.

What is your mantra for life now? What makes Kareena Kapoor Khan the happiest now?

I think Covid has taught us the value of life, health and loved ones. I think everybody needed this time of Covid to slow down, understand what your priorities in life are. I think I am happiest when I am surrounded by my family, my five friends that I have.

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